Hi, I'm Dr. Molly with Your Goals Physical Therapy. This video is made for all the runners out there who are trying to improve their breathing, whether you're new to running. You are just figuring out that every step that you take feels like all the air is being sucked out of your lungs, or if you're a seasoned runner and you're just trying to improve your time or run for longer distances. This video is perfect for you. In this video, I'm gonna go over the mechanism of breathing. How it is that we breathe. Then I'm gonna talk about all the other ways that breathing can affect your running. It's not just that you don't feel like you have air. There can be other things that are happening because your breathing is not on point. So let's get started.
Now. What is breathing now? Most of us think “I've been breathing my whole life. All you do is inhale. It's easy. Your lungs expand. Everything is great,” but you'd be surprised to find out how many people breathe with their accessory muscles, or don't fully engage all the muscles that they need to in the correct pattern. What do I mean by that? In normal breathing, how we're supposed to do this, if you watch babies, babies breathe this way naturally. When you take a deep breath in, your diaphragm goes down, which then makes your belly come out and your rib cage expands.
So your diaphragm is a dome muscle that when it contracts and it helps it actually pops down and makes a dome, which then pushes all your stomach contents out. When you exhale and all the air goes out of your lungs, that diaphragm pops back up and helps all the air come out.
But we live in Houston, which means that all of us have some amount of allergy issues. What that means is that while you cannot breathe through your nose, you have to alter how you breathe. For most of us, we default to upper chest breathing. So that's that breathing where you use your accessory muscle. You're actually using your neck to help lift your chest up. You're no longer really utilizing that diaphragm in the way that it was intended, which then makes other issues, right?
Because we are at some point supposed to run with our accessory muscles, but that's a full on sprint. You've been running for a really long time. These are like the guys that you pull in at the last minute, right? They're your crew that help you finish the job. They should not be starting the job for you. That is what's happening for a lot of people.
The other thing to think about is that as that pressure change occurs, other muscles have to adapt to keep the same amount of pressure. If you think that by changing the shape of this whole torso, you're going to be increasing or decreasing the amount of pressure in your trunk. Other things happen at the same time that the diaphragm goes up and down to help adjust for your pelvic floor. Yes, men, even you, your pelvic floor helps with this. It helps bend. Basically the same thing your diaphragm does, it goes up and it goes down. There's a little bit of a difference with that, with how those muscles are moved and then your abdominal muscles, and even your back muscles help you with breathing. Again, we just don't think about that.
If any aspect of that is just not working, if it's not working well, or if it's not working together, then you can have what they call dysfunction breathing. You're not actually expanding and contracting as much as is optimal. This may be perfectly normal and perfectly fine for you while you're walking around in your everyday life. You may have never had any idea that something is going on with your breathing. If you weren't trying to run at a faster pace or run it.
All right, How is it that you fix that? We'll talk about that in a little bit, but one thing to think about if you're like, “Mmm, this lady's a little bit nuts, who really cares if breathing doesn't bother me any other time. Why should I go out of my way to train how I breathe?” Well, it's this, as I was just saying, if everything in your trunk is not able to stay stable, or there's some things that are not coordinating correctly, while you're breathing. It can affect other things, your abdominal muscles. If they're not contracting correctly, while you're breathing, then that means they're probably not engaged fully to help you stabilize your pelvis. If you're not able to stay stiff while you're breathing.
You're able to tighten up your stomach and keep your torsos tight, then are your shoulders collapsing forward? Then it makes it even harder for your lungs to breathe. It also causes problems for your shoulders and your neck. If you're starting off by breathing very heavily in your chest, your neck muscles are gonna get very, very tired before anything else does. That'll display in many ways, like you'll round your shoulders. You'll do other things.
You go from a mild dysfunctional breathing to now, your whole mechanics of your run may be in jeopardy, because if we're not able to stabilize and breathe at the same time to help equate for all that pressure changes that have to happen, then other things fall to the wayside. If you can't stabilize your pelvis, now your hips and your legs don't have anything that they can power off through. Your shoulders don't have that stability that they need too, to help you with this. You're not gonna be stabilizing against that shift, from right to left.
All these other things can be playing into effect and you thought it was just your breathing. I know it's amazing how intricate our bodies are. It's absolutely amazing.
What is the best way to help your breathing? One, it's practicing what they call belly breathing. That idea that you're gonna expand your trunk when you inhale your trunk comes out and when you exhale, your trunk should come in. You’ll want to breathe out and this whole area, your ribcage and all should expand. When you breathe out, everything should contract. Everything should expand and everything can contract.
If you can get that to work on your own, then I would just keep practicing that. That's how you wanna practice. I would practice that at home, on your off time. Then that way, when you're running, you're not having to pay attention to it so much.
There are many reasons why, what I just demonstrated is dramatically difficult for people between your abdominal strength, your ribs being stiff, just coordination problems, pelvic floor issues. A lot of things can play in, because again, you're using so many muscles to help you do this. If you're trying to improve your breathing and you've been practicing and you've been trying different things, and you've already got yourself on a good overall strengthening program, you've been lifting weights, you've been stretching, you've been doing all these things and you cannot master this.
The fastest way to get this to work is to come and work with me. We're gonna look at exactly how you're moving and exactly what's happening with you and a little bit about your history. Some people have a very extensive history. Some people have no history, but we're gonna look at your history. We're gonna come up with a specific plan for you to help make sure that everything in your abdomen is working effectively to get you back to running at the pace that you want. Without feeling like you have to suck air through a straw.
Wouldn't it be nice to be able to decide you're gonna run your 3 or 10 miles, and you're just able to go do it and you don't feel like you're gonna get that stitch in your side. You don't feel like you're just wasted at the end. At the end you should be like, “Yes, I could have gone more because I was able to breathe.”
If that's what you're looking for, give me a call. I have two ways that we can set this up, that I'm offering right now. One is a discovery visit. A discovery visit is a little sit down chat. We're gonna talk. We're gonna figure out what your goals are and talk about where you are and maybe some problems that you're having. At the end of that discussion, we will have an idea of whether or not I can help you. And then whatever the next steps would be for you going forward for us to work together.
The other one is a little bit more detailed, A full body diagnostic. With that, there is a little bit of a charge of $20. It does get very specific though. We are gonna look at how you're moving your flexibility, just a general gross overview of how you are moving. That way we can make sure that I'm able to help you get to where you want to go. If you've already tried other people and you're like, “Hmm, I really wanna see what you're gonna tell me. Maybe that's different from other people.” This is a good way to come in. We can meet, we chat. We move around a little bit and see how that would work for you. Then we would determine what you'd need to do to go forward with whether that's with me or with somebody else, with both of those choices.
Again, the discovery visit is a free 20 minute conversation to make sure that we would work well together. The full body diagnostic is $20, still a 20 minute session, but we'll know what we need to work on for the evaluation and going forward.
I hope that you're having a great day and I hope this information was helpful. Please share it with anybody who you think might benefit from learning a little bit more about how to breathe and get back to running. Have a lovely day. Bye!
Looking for more videos like this? check out the links below!\
5 common running injuries
how to do abdominal exercises without lower back pain
why do I have difficulty catching my breath while running
WE HELP ACTIVE ADULTS OVERCOME THEIR ACHES AND PAINS TO GET THEM BACK TO THEIR FAVORITE ACTIVITIES WITHOUT MEDICATION, INJECTIONS OR SURGERIES.
Dr. Molly McDonald